How do nurses adapt their care to support children in hospitals?

Caring for children in a hospital or a clinic differs greatly from adult nursing. Children rarely have any medical history to consider, they may not understand why they need a certain treatment, and they are likely to be more nervous than an older patient. The methods of delivering effective pediatric care are unique, but with the right training, nurses can rise to the challenge.

Monitoring a child’s development

As children are still growing when they are hospitalized, nurses must be mindful of how their admission or condition could affect their development. Some health problems can have lasting physical effects, but the additional stress could have an impact on their mental health as well. Nurses must be supporting and caring, as well as vigilant. If you are hoping to pursue a career in advanced nursing and enjoy working with children, the online FNP program at the University of Indianapolis is an excellent place to start. Students are prepared for family nurse practitioner roles in the highest levels of the medical profession, and working nurses can graduate in 32 months by taking this online course part-time.

Family-centered care

When a child is admitted to a hospital, nurses maintain the bond between the patient and their loved ones by practicing family-centered care. This involves including parents in discussions about their child’s treatment and the delivery of care. Nurses will also carry out regular interactions with a child’s family to keep them reassured and connected. The family plays a crucial role in their child’s health and will frequently continue some aspects of the treatment plan at home. Therefore, nurturing a positive relationship with the family also promotes better outcomes for the child.

The environment should feel welcoming

As patients and parents need to feel relaxed and welcome, nurses, along with other hospital staff, help create a child-friendly atmosphere. Toys, posters, and a TV playing children’s shows make the surroundings feel less like a hospital. 

Communication is key

All nurses need excellent communication skills, but those in a children’s ward must fine-tune their responsiveness. It’s often the case that adults will express their feelings or their fears to a nurse, but younger children especially could struggle to do so. Therefore, nurses must try to understand how a child is coping based on their reactions and the way they are behaving. Furthermore, nurses must be adaptable in terms of communication, discussing the treatment plan in one way with the young patient and in a different way with their parents.

Understanding a child’s tolerance level

Children do not have the same level of emotional development as adults and will often have different reactions to treatments. When a nurse needs to administer treatment to a pediatric patient, they often face challenges that would not be seen in an adult ward. Children might not cope as well with painful or invasive procedures. Sometimes, soothing language and patience are enough, but occasionally children might need to be sedated for scans or treatments.

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